February 20, 2017

A Whole New Mission

Where to start... So i met my new companion on wednesday. His name is Elder Murdock and he is actually a visa waiter going to Salta Argentina, so we have language study every day where i teach him spanish since i know how to say hello and that's about it haha. He actually just studies the material that the MTC gave him while i read the book of mormon and then we try to talk to as many mexicans as possible so that he can use his spanish. And talking to people that speak spanish isnt very hard because i swear English is no ones first language around here. There are people from places i didn't even know existed haha. So all of our lessons have to go very slow and use very simple words because most of the people we talk to don't know much english. But this area is the best for missionary work because its a pretty poor community on one side and then the other side is just about average. I'll talk a little more about that later if i have time. 

Okay so time to share what has happened so far in this crazy fast paced first few days here. So we got to our apartment and found the note that the sisters who were here before us left and it mentioned a baptism that was coming up on saturday (last saturday now) and we were just thinking that that was awesome. They had already made a program and everything so it was all ready to go and all we really needed to do was teach Ali (the guy getting baptized) one more short lesson. So we taught that lesson our first day here and then we met with bishop and he said that we just needed to make sure that the person who was going to baptize Ali would still be able to do that. We called the brother that was on the program thursday night and he said he had no idea that he was supposed to and that he would be working so he couldn't do it... so this made us a little frightful that maybe the sisters hadn't contacted anyone on the program before they left and sure enough every person we called had no idea but a couple of them were willing to still participate. But we still needed someone to baptize so we tried getting a hold of Ali several times on friday, even stopped by his house a couple times but we weren't able to get in contact with him. So we called bishop and asked who he thought should baptize and he said "you know Ali isn't very close with people in the ward yet and he's leaving on tuesday for michigan so how about we just let one of you two do it?" so we said okay and then Elder Murdock said that he needed to get his pants hemmed before he baptizes anyone so it would have to be me. so without even knowing this guy very well i was put on the program to baptize him. And then friday night we went to the Gideons (two investigators who aren't married yet) to meet them and after 30 minutes of talking and teaching and finding out where they are at (which was hard because they are from the marshal islands and don't speak much english) brother Gideon (the father of one of the investigators) said "yes, they are getting married tomorrow morning at 9, we go to the other church building before the baptism" and this obviously caught us off guard because we were supposed to help them get married but i guess they had talked to bishop and had it all figured out already. So saturday morning we went to the stake center at 7:30 to fill up the font and then we had a wedding at 9 and then we had a baptism at 10. It was a crazy day!! 

Now let me tell you a little bit about a town in our area called Mont Bello. On tuesday while i was still in parker my companion and i would tell people where we were going and they would look at Elder Otterstrom and say "well i'll be praying for you" and then they would turn to me and say "and i will pray extra hard for you, you have mont bello right? do you get a concealed carry license or anything?" so that made me a little nervous but it mostly made me excited because i knew that the work would be even greater here because of that. and sure enough the work in that town is far greater then i ever saw in parker, but its not near as bad as people make it sound. The other night we were over there making some visits and knocking on the surrounding doors and then when we were on our way back to the car  we heard someone behind us shout out in the best english he could "hey, you two!" so we turned around and looked and he shouted again and said "ya, you two, come here" and then he said a few other demands like "come here" but it was in spanish, so we walked over to him a little nervously because he looked angry (this was like 8:30) and then he started talking to Elder Murdock in spanish and stepped really close to us and then looked at me and started talking in spanish, so i told him i don't speak spanish and asked if he spoke english. He said he spoke a little and then started laughing really hard and said "you look just like Arse, my best friend in highschool. Here i'll show you a picture." And then he showed us a picture of the mexican Sam Cluff and he started calling me Arse. We have had a few interactions like this and we have come to find out almost everyone in mont bello looks mean but they are super nice and friendly. sometimes i see someone when we are out in that area and i think "oh better steer clear of them" and then of course the prompting comes that i need to talk to that person and i think "ah man, come on, what about that old lady over there? cant i talk to her instead?" But that's not how the spirit works so i go talk to the person that i felt prompted to talk to and almost every time i do that those are the people that invite us back. 

One more funny story, so we were walking back from an appointment that was in our apartment complex and on our way back Elder Murdock just decided to let out a short whistle for no reason, and then right after he did that a guy standing on his porch nearby whistled back and started laughing. We turned to face him and then he asked us how we were doing so we replied and then walked over and asked how he was doing. He was from the marshal islands as well but we managed to set up an appointment to go back and teach him. The lord works in mysterious ways, even through a whistle! 

Well that's just a little bit of the crazy week I've been having. i have a few pictures but i don't know how to get them onto the computer because there's no spot for my sd card so maybe by next week i will be able to find a way to send them...

love you all!! 
Love, Elder Cluff

February 6, 2017

The Call to Serve

Okay, I first just have to say, I CALLED IT!! Well half of it..... so the training calls have always happened on Thursdays in the past and then like district leader calls and things happen Friday and Saturday. So after Thursday i thought i was in the clear and then after Saturday i thought i was for sure in the clear but i guess with the new schedule comes a whole new set up. So low and behold last night at 8:15 the phone started ringing and we thought it was just going to be the other elders in our district but i pulled the phone out of my pocket and it was the AP's so we were both a little nervous. But then i answered and they just had some questions about us moving (from one member of the ward to another) and then they said thanks and were about to hang up, but then AP Olsen said "so Elder Cluff, would you be willing to accept the assignment to train next transfer?" and of course i said yes and then they said thank you again, told me i will be blessed and i will grow through this assignment and then they hung up.... so i was just left asking the questions, where? who? new missionary or one who's been out for a transfer? and these questions kept me up for a good 45 minutes in bed last night. And we were pretty sure that i would stay in Dove Valley ward since they were just white washed by us and we didn't think president would throw that much at me as to make me train and white wash. So finally at 9:15 this morning we got to the library and looked at the transfer information. I scrolled as fast as i could right to the Parker zone and looked at Dove Valley ward..... Elder Cluff was not there... neither was Elder Otterstrom.... So i then scrolled up and down trying to find my name and found it in the Aurora zone, serving in the Highpoint ward, training a brand new missionary from the MTC who's name i have no idea.. This will definitely be an oh so fun and exciting adventure for me and this new Elder. last night as neither me or elder Otterstrom could sleep i decided to use that time to look for some help in the scriptures on how to train this young man who is about to enter into something that there's no way to prepare for. As i turned to the topical guide i found the topic "train" but there was only one scripture. I guess that means training isn't that important in the scriptures right? NO!! Its just this short little verse that wraps everything about training into one... Proverbs 22:6 "Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it." These were my thoughts after reading that. "Oh yeah that makes sense, ya that wont be bad... wait what, no, that means there's more weighing on this than i thought." But then i found this verse in the next chapter 23:7 "for as he thinketh in his heart, so is he:.." So then i realized that all i have to do is tell him to think righteous things in his heart right? And then i found Romans 12:2-3 and i will let you read that one but i just thought it was a good couple verses about training and about life in general. And the last verse i want to share with you that i found is Exodus 20:25 "thou shalt not build it of hewn stone: for if thou lift up thy tool upon it, thou hast polluted it." I thought this was a cool insight to working with the spirit and not just relying on our own knowledge and experience, because if we rely on our own selves and cut things and shape them the way we think they should be then we will pollute whatever we are doing, but if we rely on the spirit and use his knowledge, his Godly knowledge, then we will help bring to past the most beautiful results.

Well that's about all i've got to say this week because that's all that's on my mind right now, so hopefully you can still find things within this email to personalize and find inspiration and comfort. May the Holy Ghost be your only guide through this week as we all face many trials and fiery darts. Satan won't win, so don't follow him.

Love you all!

Love, Elder Cluff

February 1, 2017

A Great Week!

This really was a great week. We have had much inspiration and direction given from meetings and studies and we have also had the chance to touch many lives even if that touch was so gentle that they haven’t even realized we touched them yet.

I went on exchanges yesterday and got to go with the other Elder Cluff in the next ward over which was so much fun when we would introduce ourselves as Elder Cluff and Elder Cluff. There were a lot of people who didn’t believe us at first and then it really took some convincing after we told them that we were born on the same day. We also found out that we both only have one nephew and they are both the same age. I got to be on bike for the day which was tons of fun, especially being with someone at the same physical level as me. I don’t think it would’ve been much faster for us to have a car because we were just having fun riding as fast as we could and finding little trails to take from place to place. But besides the fun that we had, I think it was very inspired for me to be in that area yesterday. We ran into an active member when we knocked on the door of a house where an inactive member was supposed to be living and he invited us in and was super nice, but they were planning on putting their cat down that night because of sickness so it was a little bit of a rough day for them. But he cheered up awful fast when I told him that I saw his wood shop in the garage on the way in and asked if he was a woodworker. He said he was and then I continued to point out all of the things I figured he had made in the house. He was surprised I had picked the little details out in things and asked about my experience with woodworking. He loved telling me about all of his projects and it made him so excited to have someone who knew what he was talking about. That was a conversation not very many of the Elders could have had with him to lighten his mood.

After we left his house we went to visit some prospective Elders and one of them had his garage open as well and had 4 dirtbikes in the garage. I told Elder Cluff that i just gained respect for this man because he had 2 little ones which means he taught his kids how to ride. We then went up and knocked on his door and he came out and told us some of his story, said he’s been away from the church since high school and now he’s going to this mega church here in parker; but he didn’t seem super interested in talking to us so he said he had to get back to his kids and was about to shut the door when i stepped forward a little bit and asked about the dirtbikes in the garage and asked if his kids ride. He continued to talk for another 10 minutes about dirtbiking and then about Jesus Christ’s role in his life. Even though one of these people was a member and the other still isn’t interested in changing his religion, i believe those conversations needed to happen, even if the only reason was to help them see the missionaries in a more friendly and conversational way. We can never push promptings or conversations aside because it’s not gospel related or because the person isn’t interested in what we have to say. The Lord always has a plan and he needs us to act no matter how small a piece in the puzzle we may be. Often times the smallest pieces are the ones that are the most aggravating when we can’t find it to fill the gap. 

We got to go to the Temple this morning and we had the 6:00 session so we had to wake up at like 4:30 so i was super tired. But it was amazing to see how the Lord helped me to not feel tired once we walked into the temple. The thoughts that we have and the prayers we give in the temple always seem to be a little deeper in meaning and a little bit more applicable to our situation right now. And of course if you know me-- I can’t go anywhere without a story to tell after or broken pieces of something to show, and it was no different even at the temple. We got out a little bit before the companionship that we gave a ride to so we just decided to take a couple pictures (I’ll send those as well) and I thought, well I want one where I’m standing on the fountain. So without hesitation I hopped up on the fountain wall, but as i stopped moving upward and landed, my planner and my white handbook decided not to follow suit and they flew up and out of my shirt pocket and into the fountain. But luckily I grabbed them fast enough that nothing too important I got damaged like my ministerial certificate and the picture of Addie that keep in my white handbook cover.  

Well that’s all i really have for today, but i would like to make mention of a few verses in the book of mormon and the brief insight that i gained from them. Helaman 16:16-18 First thought i had after reading these verses, PROPHETS DONT GUESS! They are inspired by the Lord and anything they have to tell us we ought to listen to. And the second thought i had was don’t rationalize. It brings contention (verse 17), it brings judgement upon our heads that none of us want, plus who are we to say what God’s bounds are or to say that his plan isn’t reasonable? He works GREAT and MARVELOUS miracles, not reasonable ones.  Don’t question the God who made you and me. He is way smarter than we are.  

Love you all!

-Love, Elder Cluff